By: Tina Armstrong – Ogboona & Mayowa Adeniran –
Government commitment to agriculture in line with the transformation agenda has been challenged as small scale farmers in Lagos has accused the government of neglect.
The small scale farmers operating in Epe, Badagry, Ojo, Ikorodu and Ifako-Ijaiye area of Lagos lamented that continuous announcement of the government commitment to agriculture are mere lip service.
The farmers stated this during an interactive media session organised by Human and Environment Development Agenda HEDA held in Lagos.
A rice grower in Badagry Mr Segun Atho said that they have not been able to access any credit facility in the form of loans from any bank. But rather they are exploited by banks that encourage them to open account with them in the hope that they are facilitating loan for there farming business. According to Mr. Atho the popular “ofada rice” that is locally produced by farmers in Nigeria, is yet to gain international recognition due to government lack of support to small scale farmers that produce 70% of food consumed in the country.
A commercial fish farmer, Mrs. Modinat Oyinloye whose farm use to be in Agric area of Ojo said farmers are working with little or no assistance from government. “In August we were forcefully evicted from our fish pond which we have been using for close to twenty years as the land was acquired for construction of an estate. We lost our fishes and our livelihood, up till now we are yet to be compensated and relocated. If government is committed to agriculture won’t they have intervened in this situation? Yet we are one of the major suppliers of fish to Lagosians”.we are appealing to the Lagos state government to alleviate the sufferings of small scale farmers in the state. There are farmers in Lagos and we are the farmers, she added.
The Programme Director of HEDA Mr. Sulaiman Arigbabu called on the Federal government to take more interest in Agriculture and support small scale farmers. “Government should make adequate investments in developing infrastructures critical to food production, preservation and processing. There should be leadership through appropriate public policies that will attract private investments, foreign direct investment and youth participation in agriculture”.
Mr. Arigbabu believes that if there is sincere commitment to agriculture, Nigeria has no business with hunger and unemployment. The redirection and focus of the federal government to make the nations economy, oil dependent has so far spelt doom for the country. We used food to build pyramid like the groundnut pyramid in Kano but all that has been lost due to the so call oil-boom that has brought about oil-doom, he stressed.
In 2003, Africa leaders gathered in Maputo and agreed to commit 10% of annual budget to the agriculture sector, as a way of boosting and ensuring food security in the Africa continent but Nigeria commit only 3% of annual budget to agriculture.